animal crossing game and Nintendo switch controller being held up

How Animal Crossing: New Horizons Has Created The Perfect Island Getaway That I Need Right Now

The year 2008 saw a very merry Christmas for me as I was gifted a video game that would spark an obsession with a long list of activities such as fishing, bug catching, home decorating and fossil collecting. I grew up playing video games with my family, but this one was different. I played it consistently every day, and my family knew that once I turned on the Wii, I would be on it for hours. I would constantly show them what I was doing and all the fun items that I had found throughout the town. This game was Animal Crossing: City Folk.

Although this was not the first Animal Crossing game released, it was the one that started my love for the whole franchise itself. In fact, in 2012, I was thrilled when Animal Crossing: New Leaf came out on the Nintendo 3DS, and I reverted back to my hours of game play as I had done when I was 11 years old. Ever since the Nintendo Switch was released in 2017, I was eagerly hoping for an announcement for a new Animal Crossing game. Needless to say, when a trailer for Animal Crossing: New Horizons dropped, I was ecstatic. It was visually stunning and bright, and as always, the music was peaceful, appealing to the senses.

Even though the game ended up being delayed, I remained patient because I knew that Nintendo had to be doing something special that players had never seen before. Still, each day I was checking Animal Crossing Twitter accounts, watching YouTube videos and doing whatever else I could to keep up with the anticipation surrounding the new game.

Fast forward and the new release date became March 20, 2020. Upon seeing this, I thought it was perfect timing because that day would be the Friday I would finish my winter quarter finals, and I could play the game all spring break as a reward for getting through them and as a means to decompress from school. Little did I know that this would truly be the most perfect timing ever.

someone playing Nintendo switch and sitting down Kelly Sikkema

As the Coronavirus has created a global pandemic with at-home quarantining and social distancing enforcements, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been such a bright spot in my life. The game has so many amazing updates that make me feel like an excited kid all over again. This time around, I am the Resident Representative for an island ran by the one and only, (slightly frightening capitalistic but equally adorable raccoon), Tom Nook. I get to make my own tools for fishing, bug-catching and wood-chopping at DIY workbenches. I can even build my own furniture to beautify and customize the island to my pleasing.

I also love that I can accumulate Nook Miles for activities that I would already be doing anyway. Like, catch five fish and get 300 Nook Miles? Do not mind if I do! Talk to three villagers and get 200 Nook Miles? Yes please! These rewards turn into currency as I am able to redeem my Nook Miles for tickets to deserted islands, furnishings for my island, clothes and so much more!

two animal crossing characters standing in an aquarium Emily Nelissen

The element of customization in Animal Crossing: New Horizons opens up so many opportunities for building a gorgeous getaway island that is soothing to play in each day. However, like in life, many milestones in game are done one day at time. For instance, the museum and the shop, Nook’s Cranny, do not show up instantly. Players are given the task of helping construct these places by gathering materials, and they have to wait until the next day to see progress. It means that no matter what, there is always something to do every day, and it makes playing all the more fulfilling.

Nevertheless, if I am being completely honest, I had already intended to play Animal Crossing at nearly all hours of the day during spring break, but the game has such a sense of sociability and community that I did not know that I needed during a time like this. I can play online with my friends, and we can visit each other’s islands to compare our design choices as well as see what each of our islands have to offer. We can trade resources and give each other gifts as well. 

animal crossing characters laying on the beach in hammocks Emily Nelissen

I have found that the best way to play has been to video chat with my friends while we are on each other’s islands. It is as close to we can get to hanging out in real life, and we are able to have conversations with each other while we explore and discover the beauty of the game. Each day, not only do my friends and I play together to see each other’s island progress, but to also socialize and talk about our lives in general. I have even been able to keep up and play with my sister who lives two states away. 

I am so grateful that this game has become a point of contact and bonding experience amongst the people that mean the most to me. The game has invited older fans as well newcomers into a franchise that has developed a community rooted in relaxing gameplay, sociability and shared positivity. For me, Animal Crossing has been a staple video game for half my life, and it is so wonderful to be able to share that love with others. Although unexpected, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been the hero and savior that I did not know that I needed during self-quarantine.